flour + water
the early technology of resistance & critique
snipes and posters from the naguals press 1997–2021
Flour + Water explores the work of the graphic design collective Naguals Press and their practice of wheat pasting snipes and posters. In the age of Tik Tok, Twitter and apps that allow you to make memes on your phone, wheat pasting emerges as an early technology of resistance and critique. Wheat paste is natural glue made from kitchen flour mixed with water and commonly used in papier-mâché and crafts. A wheat pasting campaign is almost a primal craft in its development and execution. Sometimes posters are made of hand drawn art or photographs copied, cut out and manipulated into collages. Finally they are reproduced in small batches and in secret with one’s office copier. Under the cover of night the paper copies are adhered to the city’s most visible municipal electrical boxes, construction barriers and concrete walls with the primitive all-purpose glue. While the posters only remain posted across the urban landscape for a brief moment in time, the influence of their messaging may be felt for years.
This installation and website, a curated collection dating from 1997 – 2021, are a retrospective of Naguals as a form of political messaging through . Twenty-three designers have worked to create posters that agitate, enlighten, combat injustice and transcend mainstream channels, yet speak to a wide audience. The campaigns range from local Los Angeles politics, issues of land use from Hawaii to the South Bay Area, anti-gentrification, homelessness, and anti-war. Many posters have been translated into Tagalog, Mandarin, Spanish and English to communicate to the diverse communities of Northeast Los Angeles.
Thank you to the Andrew W. Mellon Arts and Technology Grant for assistance in developing this piece of community history. Thank you to CCBL, the Center for Community Based Learning at Occidental College, for their support of community groups, many of whom work to fight the issues illustrated through this project. CCBL has consistently provided the resources needed to support the missions of community groups and given voice to community members throughout Northeast Los Angeles.
naguals press would also like to acknowledge:
> The twenty-three anonymous designers that have donated their time and energy to Naguals.
> Language justice partners who assisted in the translation and development of posters.
> The copywriters who assisted and guided designers.
> The two founding designers and their enduring friendship when they crossed each other’s path of self-discovery.
> The dozens of supporters from the different collectives and groups who braved the nights and wet, freezing glue to spread the word.
> The generous folks whose office equipment we drained of life, almost. When we said “we have an idea”, their response was always, “send me the file!”
> The audience who walked the streets at night, caught us pasting and asked for copies. We were honored that you thought so highly of our dribble when we were not so famous as Robbie Conal’s crew and Shepard Fairy’s brand… —Naguals Press
> Grace Hut, assistant curator
> Rae Hirschfield-Smith, assistant curator
> John Urquiza, curator
> Arturo Romo, essay
> Willa Hut, poster illustration
special thanks for assistance in developing the digital archive
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